Tuning in to help sick children
Radio Lollipop has brought music to the ears of children in hospitals around the world for more than 30 years.
And the volunteers who keep the station running at Starship Children’s Hospital say they always leave their shift with a smile on their face.
‘‘It’s an absolute privilege to be with children and their families at a time that is quite rough for them,’’ Radio Lollipop chairwoman and volunteer Angela Mackie says.
Radio Lollipop was started by Hedley Finn and Dave Glass in the UK in 1979 at St Mary’s Hospital for Children in Surrey.
It has expanded to boast stations in numerous hospitals throughout the UK, New Zealand, America and Australia.
A team of trained and dedicated volunteers visit children in the wards to provide one-on-one play and entertainment.
The station at Starship was established 21 years ago and now has a team of 130 volunteers, aged between 18 and mid-60s.
The children can tune into the radio station, call the studio, make requests and shout outs.
If they are able, they can visit the studio and participate in activities in Starship’s atrium.
Mrs Mackie has been a volunteer for eight years and loves nothing more than spending an evening on the wards after a hard day at work.
‘‘I love it. This can be the only bit of fun or normality that [the children] get.
‘‘You always leave with a smile on your face.’’
Radio Lollipop is holding a quiz night in November as part of its annual fundraising and it hopes to raise $20,000.
Funds raised will go towards refurbishing and modernising the studio, including purchasing a new laptop and equipment to digitalise the station’s catalogue of music.
‘‘We want to make it more interesting for the children,’’ Mrs Mackie says.
‘‘We just want to make it more modern and the parents love it. It’s good to have some people interaction.’’
Mrs Mackie says there are two important factors in deciding to become a Radio Lollipop volunteer.
‘‘You have to love kids and got to have fun.’’
High note: Radio Lollipop volunteers Sahear Dabbour, left, Angela Mackie, Sarah Finnigan-Walsh and Sandie Chu enjoy working with the youngsters at Starship.